From Asia to Africa, Europe to North America, horse racing is popular around the world. Spanning countries and continents, it has drawn crowds from every corner of the earth for centuries, if not millennia.
Horse racing in one form or another dates back to around 4500 BC when the nomadic tribesman of Central Asia first domesticated these magnificent creatures. Ever since, mankind has striven to create the ultimate athlete: brave, fleet of foot, and with exceptional heart and stamina.
Today, that ambition is embodied by the thoroughbred – an equine unrivalled by any other. Having improved almost every modern breed in existence, this unparalleled racehorse dominates tracks across the world.
For the best of the best, however, there are only a handful of places and events where they can truly meet their matches. These ultimate tests of horse and rider represent some of the finest races in existence.
Here are three of the best for racing enthusiasts to enjoy.
The Kentucky Derby
Taking the top spot on our list is the inimitable Kentucky Derby. Held on the first Saturday in May, it carries a prize pot of a cool $3 million. Run on a dirt surface, it challenges competitors to cover 1.25 miles from start line to finish post, all while competing against the finest racehorses in the world.
While it’s not the most high-value event on this list, the Kentucky Derby is the most famous, and there’s a good reason for this – it’s the ultimate contest of horse and jockey. Hailed as ‘the fastest two minutes in the racing calendar’, it delivers 120 seconds of unimaginable thrills.
In existence since 1875, the Kentucky Derby is the first leg in the American Triple Crown. Aimed at three-year-olds, it boasts a slew of prestigious winners, including the incomparable Secretariat, who’s one of only two horses to have completed the course in less than two minutes.
Drawing spectators from around the world, the Derby is the biggest horse race on earth, with American bettors alone gambling over $130 million each year. Bettors hail from every corner of the earth, from Africa to Asia and beyond. This means that even if you’re located in India, for example, you can still enjoy a slice of the action, with many different types of online horse race betting to choose from, including both fixed odds and tote. The competition in this industry means there are always plenty of generous welcome bonuses to take advantage of, as well as lots of different markets including simple win bets and more adventurous accumulator bets.
Wherever you’re located and however much or little you want to bet, be sure to tune in and let the TV cameras take you along for the ride.
The Dubai World Cup
Jumping from America to Asia, we find our second entry on this list: the Dubai World Cup. With an incredible winner’s purse of $12 million, this race takes place on the last Saturday in March at the luxurious Meydan Racecourse.
Run over a distance of 1.25 miles, the Dubai World Cup is the most high-value horse racing contest in the world. Open to both three and four-year-olds, the event was first hosted in 1996, with Thunder Snow becoming the first horse to win the race on two separate occasions (in 2018 and 2019 respectively).
Entrants come from all over the world, with previous runners having been trained everywhere from the United Arab Emirates to the UK, USA, France, and Japan. For those trainers and owners with a quality horse and a desire for some dollar, there are few other races with so strong a lure.
The Epsom Derby
Britain has long been hailed as the home of horse racing, and the jewel in its dazzling crown is undoubtedly the Epsom Derby. Held on the first Saturday in June, it draws glamorous spectators from around the world.
Run over a distance of one and a half miles, the race comes with a winner’s purse of $2 million and is the biggest and most glamorous horse race in the UK. Having run continuously since 1780, it’s one of the world’s premier flat races.
Open to three-year-old colts and fillies, the Epsom Derby represents the second leg in the English Triple Crown, being preceded by the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and followed by the St Leger at Doncaster.
Like Royal Ascot, which was another close contender for this list, it’s a favourite among the British royal family, with the queen, her children, and her grandchildren often in attendance. With capacity for thousands of spectators, it never fails to draw a crowd, and when the winner crosses the line, the cheers are enough to set the ground shaking.
Tell us, if you could choose any one of these races to attend in person, which would it be?